Helen Thomas Biography

Helen Thomas

White House correspondent
Born: 8/4/1920
Birthplace: Winchester, Kentucky

After graduating from Wayne University, Thomas went to Washington, DC. In 1943 she began working for United Press International, (UPI), a news wire service providing articles to newspapers around the country. Thomas was hired to write stories of interest to women. She broke into political reporting in 1961, when she began filing stories about the Kennedy administration. Since then, she has covered eight presidents. In 1970 she became UPI's White House correspondent. In 1972 she was the only print journalist to go on President Nixon's historic trip to China. She also traveled with presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush, and covered every presidential economic summit. Thomas was the first woman officer of the National Press Club, the White House Correspondents Association, and the first woman member of the Gridiron Club. She became the first female White House bureau chief of a wire service in 1974. As her career advanced, Thomas came to be considered the “dean of the Washington press corps,” and she was allowed to ask the first question at presidential press conferences. At the end of her first presidential press conference in 1961, Thomas said, “Thank you, Mr. President,” establishing a tradition that continues today. She has written two books, Dateline: White House and Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times. Thomas left UPI in 2000 when it was purchased by News World Communications, Inc., an affiliate of the Unification Church.